New live sound / remote rig? Presonus 16.0.2

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by BobRogers, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    You know how one "sensible" purchase can lead to another, which can lead to another... Well I might be getting started on one of those spirals. One of the bands I'm in is probably going to be playing a lot of local gigs in small venues where we have to provide the sound support and mix from the stage. I'm thinking of replacing my A&H mixwiz and a couple of DBX equalizers with Presonus 16.0.2. Much more versatile rig and much smaller footprint - and the sale of old equipment will keep the cost pretty low. It's only 12 preamps, so that's a constraint. But it's plenty for the way we set up now.

    So anyway, one of the cool features of the new Presonus StudioLive boards is that you can hook to a laptop through firewire, set up a local network with a router, and then control the whole damned thing through a iPad. You can even set it up so that individual musicians can control their own aux mix with an iPad or iPhone. This means that I can control things from the stage, but go out to the front of house to tweak things during soundcheck (or have someone do tweaks from the audience during the show.) I know there are several regular posters who have played with StudioLive boards. Have you used these features? How do they work? Are they useful?

    But this probably means buying a laptop with firewire. But if I go that far, I might as well record all the concerts. But if I do that, I might as well rethink my mobile recording rig. Anyway, forget that for the moment. My guitarist has a macbook pro, so we can at least try out all the featues before going down the long road. I'll post again on the issues of a recording laptop and a mobile recording rig.
     
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Hi Professor, do you want the short answer, or the term-paper?
     
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    From you, on this, I'd love a term paper, but I'll settle for what your schedule allows. If you want to talk me out of buying the Presonus, you'd better be quick. It's on its way. (I will send it back if it doesn't do the job.)
     
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Its an incredible value, Bob. I'm certain you will love it.
     
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i am curious to hear what you will think of the Studio One2 software and the 64 summing. i hope you try some itb mixes and let us all hear if you think it's any better than 32 bits as far as the 2-bus ability to handle it.


    mmmmmmmmph! ghahhhhh ! suicide aaaaahazh*t
     
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I started checking out the Studio One2 demo a few months ago and then got bogged down with work and let the trial period expire. It will be good to get a copy and check it out more deeply. We'll see what the end of the year brings with the new versions of PT and UAD. Should be interesting.
     
  7. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I hope you got in on the October rebate.

    I would not have tried to talk you out of it. They're good sounding mixers, first and foremost.

    Term paper to follow shortly.
     
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm curious to hear all comments on 64bit.

    I'm 64 bit but think its too early in the game to expect rock solid stability, including noticing anything special. My take on this, its a crap shoot unless you are sticking with one DAW and not relying on third party plug-ins. Conflicts can happen and we all know what that's like when you are rolling along, 2/3 into a session and all of a sudden, WTF.... suicide

    I also think its paramount to have your DAW built to specs.

    And, less is more.

    Looking forward to your term paper Dave, you always explain stuff so well.
     
  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I got the rebate, a discount, and 18 months interest free (to pay as I sell the equipment it replaces.) I have not read a bad review from someone I take seriously. They have ranged from raves to "good bang for the buck." Looking forward to the term paper.
     
  10. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    PreSonus StudioLive Review

    Alright, you asked for it. It may be better blog material and you may wish my dog had eaten it:


    What I Did On My Summer Vacation (2011) To Present

    As it turns out, I recently had occasion to use the StudioLive Remote app and iPad to control my PreSonus mixer. As you know, I've been using a StudioLive24.4.2 for over a year and a half now. I've been extremely happy with it both as a live mixer and remote recording console. For starters the mixer just plain sounds good both for live-sound applications as well as what ends up on the recording. The mic-pres are well above average. I've used this set-up to record big jazz band performances at the local university, live rock band shows, a country solo-artist's live performances, plus a wide variety of projects that were on-location, but not during live shows. [Samples available upon request] In a perfect world, there are a few things I'd change about the SL24 if I could, but it's a pretty short wishlist. Off the top of my head I can only think of two: #1 Finer control of parametric EQ frequencies #2 Make it a control surface for the StudioOne DAW.

    [Sidebar - Given the way the StudioLive mixers interact with VSL, I'm still baffled why PreSonus doesn't forge ahead and make all of the SL series mixers full-fledged Control Surfaces for the StudioOne software. To me it seems like they've already done the hardest part.]


    For the purpose of recording a live show, the Capture software is just as easy as they say, 2-clicks and all 24 tracks are armed and recording in seconds - and it doesn't seem to tax my laptop resources much at all. For editing/mixing the StudioOne software is a pretty standard DAW much like any other. I was very accustomed to the ProTools shortcut keys and GUI, so it took me a little while to get used to StudioOne. But it didn't take long, and I'm very comfortable with it now. I don't think I've launched a new ProTools session in 18 months, so that's saying something. StudioOne does have a nice assortment of stock plug-ins that do what they're supposed to do. The upgrade to the Pro version offered some nice additional plug-ins and a very useful CD authoring function, which I've found to be well worth the cost of the upgrade. When v2 came out I got it as well, and did a couple sessions with it. For reasons I can't explain yet, I've have had a number glitches with v2. Most of the glitches were minor, but there were a couple that would have had VERY unpleasant consequences if I hadn't been saving regularly. One of the RAM modules in my laptop went bad over the summer, so it could just be insufficient RAM causing the problems. I'll report back on that after I get back up to maximum RAM. Luckily, PreSonus (unlike some companies) does not force you to remove v1 to install v2, so I was able to keep them both loaded and go back to v1 until I get this sorted out.

    Until a couple weeks ago, the only time I had used the StudioLive connected to the laptop for anything other than recording, was about 18 months ago when I updated a customer's mixer firmware and stored a couple of their scenes*. Firewire from the mixer to the laptop is plug and play, and firmware updates etc. are managed by a simple little PreSonus Application called Universal Control.

    *Note: You should take any scenes you have stored on your mixer and back them up to your computer before you perform a firmware update, otherwise you may lose the scenes previously stored on the mixer.

    Then there's Virtual StudioLive, which is the bi-directional software that lets you control the mixer from the laptop and vice versa. Any adjustment you make on one is reflected on the other (with the exception of the Faders physically moving, Gain controls, and Aux Masters***). Even in wired-mode, the VSL software would be extremely handy (and much faster than using the controls on the mixer) for someone setting up extensive scenes such as a play, or other complex stage-production. Rearranging scenes and copying settings over multiple channels would be immeasurably faster.

    The VSL software would also be MUCH more convenient for assigning and adjusting the Graphic EQs compared to scrolling through the controls on the physical mixer controls. The Graphics on the physical mixer are somewhat cumbersome due to some scrolling that must be done - which I have to think is even worse on the 16.0.2 just because you have even fewer knobs to work with. On the 24.4.2 it's a minor inconvenience, because seriously with the 4-band parametric with adjustable Q available on every single input, AND every Subgroup, AND the Main Output, AND every Aux Output of the 24-channel version** I've never needed any of the 8 assignable Graphics. And if I really needed graphics I've got a couple respectable hardware EQs that would be much more to my liking in a crisis.

    **Important Note: The parametric EQ configuration and number of Graphics varies from the 24.4.2 to the 16.4.2 to the 16.02

    In a studio environment, VSL would be useful to store the channel names and notes along with whatever HPF, Gate/EXP, Comp, Limiter, EQ settings, Pan, Sub assignments, and FX you may have used tracking the song or session - for instant recall.


    Anyway as slick as the VSL software is, I'm like a lot of you - I'd rather have my hands on the mixer than on a mouse, so I haven't found a lot of need for VSL in my normal use of the SL24. When I bring the laptop to a live show it's dedicated to recording, and I've got lots of empty scenes on the mixer to do a save after the soundcheck.

    So up until lately I haven't been able to think of any earthly reason to use VSL at a live show, and no circumstance at all that would justify an iPad purchase.


    Then a couple weeks ago I took my SL24 out for a demo at a church that was looking to replace their aging Mackie 8-bus. This church is relatively new construction, fairly cozy, no balcony and about a 16' cathedral ceiling at the apex. But somewhere along the way, someone thought it would be an excellent idea to put the soundbooth up in the attic/office space above part of the building adjacent to the sanctuary. So their poor volunteer soundguys are trying to make mix decisions based on what they hear coming through a 4ft x 3ft window just below the apex of the ceiling at the back of the room. And due to the size of the building and location of the stairs, it takes a minute to run from the soundbooth to the sanctuary floor to have a listen - then back out the door and up the stairs and down the hall and into the soundbooth to adjust... and so on. So one of the major selling points for the StudioLive for this particular church and the demo was, 'can we try out your mixer with StudioLive Remote?' Having never used it before I told them if they had the iPad and router we'd give it a shot. I had a full day of other repair and service work there and they had a mid-week church service, so it worked out well for a full day of straightening out their other issues, followed by a good real-world test of the SL mixer that evening. But we wouldn't have a lot of time to fuss with the iPad test, so it needed to work without a lot of grief. I watched a couple of the video tuturials prior to demo-day and it looked so easy I was cautiously optimistic.

    I took my SL24, a firewire cable, and my 5-yr old Macbook Pro already loaded with VSL (which comes with every StudioLive mixer along with Universal Control, Capture, SMAART anaylzer software, and StudioOne). In this case, I didn't need to provide a separate wireless router. The church has a wireless network throughout the building, and their tech guy had an iPad with the free SLRemote app already loaded. As soon as we both logged on to their network, the iPad recognized the StudioLive automatically.

    But at first, even though he could see the mixer he couldn't take control of it. This was because my VSL software and mixer firmware (although completely compatible with one another) were 18 months behind the times and the StudioLive Remote app on his iPad was last week's version. The tech-guy was bummed, but his depression didn't last too long. I needed to update my software/firmware to versions new enough to work with his iPad - yet old enough to still run on my MBP which is running OS 10.6. That's at least two large predatory cats behind the cutting edge OS on a 5-yr old laptop. The PreSonus website had the perfect meet-in-the-middle update that I needed. A few minutes later after a quick software/firmware download, and laptop restart, we were in business and he had total control over the StudioLive.

    The SLRemote on the iPad gives you control over all the functions of VSL in a tablet-friendly format. You can find a view that fits whatever level of control you want. You can view a bunch of faders, or dive into more detail on any one channel and it's plug-ins. Using the iPad to draw the curve on a graphic works great. Looking at, and adjusting, Aux mixes was also extremely easy. All in all, very impressive - as advertised. If you've watched any of the videos on YouTube, or the PreSonus website, meant to demonstrate how easy it is to set-up and use - it really is just that easy.

    So a short time after we got the iPad linked up, the church-folk started showing up and we had to quit playing and get into church mode. And even though their soundguy barely had an hour to familiarize himself with both the SL24's fat-channel concept and VSL simultaneously - he had control of the service through his iPad and apart from a couple minor volume (drunk with new found power) things, it went very smoothly. There weren't any problems, but if he had a major meltdown I was ready to take control from the physical console, while he was at the other end of the room.

    Most importantly though, the StudioLive just flat-out sounded noticeably better than their old board by a wide margin (the tech-guys noticed, the pastor noticed, the deacons noticed, a few parishioners commented). Give them a little time to fine-tune the EQs and compressors, and I'm sure it will be even better. So the only thing they had left to debate was whether they wanted the 24-channel version, or two 16.4.2 mixers bridged together via firewire to make a seamless 32.4.2.

    So the good news is, StudioRemote Live works like a charm and does exactly what you want it to do in a very intuitive way. The bad news is, it looks like I have an iPad expenditure in the very near future - even if only for the purpose of demonstrating the PreSonus mixers I'm convinced it will earn its keep. If a gigging band had a soundperson that was comfortable enough mixing FOH on an iPad, just think... no more big bulky snakes. Leave the SL mixer on-stage with the amp rack(s). But of course, the whole operation is only going to be as good as your laptop and network.

    Using the iPad would be great for a sound tech working in any venue to be on the stage, making connections, unmuting channels, line-checking channels, or adjusting the bass-player's monitor mix from the stage without running back and forth to the soundboard. I can think of a number of schools & churches where it's a hike from the mix position in the balcony to the stage.

    ***Last Note: I think it's important to emphasize one point I alluded to earlier. Neither the Scenes stored in the mixer, nor the Scenes stored on the computer with VSL, or the subsequent iPad controlling VSL remotely... none of them can store / control / adjust the value of the Gain knob on the input channels, or Aux Master Send levels. These are actual potentiometers rather than data-encoders. The faders and fat-channel controls actually are just encoders - controllable and programmable by any combination of the gizmos above. So, before line-checking a bunch of unfamiliar signal sources, you would have to exercise good judgement setting the Gains before you walked away from the physical mixer. In your case, with a consistent line-up on seasoned musicians it should be a breeze.


    Sorry, I can't comment on the QMix app yet - I have a phone and an older iPod that serve my needs, so I can't justify owning an iPhone (or iPod Touch) at this point either. I have no reason to think QMix won't be equally good (to the extent leaving all the musicians in control of their own monitor mix is good). Which is to say - I'm confident the QMix app is as well-craft as everything else PreSonus has put out there, but I can think of a handful of musicians who could not be trusted with that kind of control over something that affects stage-volume. I think that would be a decision made on a band to band basis. For folks using in-ears it would be a thing of absolute beauty. The net cost would be far less than most of the digital cat5 based personal monitor mixing systems.

    I am also looking forward to using the SMAART software someday, but I have other RTA analyzers that are more convenient for readings in the field.


    So there you go Bob. That's my review of the pieces of the StudioLive rig top to bottom that I have hands-on time with - including the highlights, lowlights, pros and cons as I see them.


    .o0O Dr. Bob gives a lot of homework





     
  11. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Wow. Back in the day, you might have gotten an A- for neglecting QMix and SMAART, but these days that's a solid A+! (I give a lot of homework, but I'm not a hard grader. You can check the VT ratings.) That's a great review. I'm forwarding to a bunch of people.

    The biggest drawback of the 16.0.2 is that there is only one GEQ, and that is on the mains. But if everyone can adjust his own aux mix, I'm making the old farts in my band buy wireless in-ear monitors. To hell with monitor feedback and everyone fighting over more me.
     
  12. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I remember seeing one of the 16-channels got a few more EQs in the form of a firmware update. I'll see if I can find that information.
     
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Dave, thank you for taking the time to write that awesome review!
     
  14. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    My pleasure Chris.

    I thought Bob would be the only one who would bother to read anything that long.

    But then again, guys like us remember having magazines sent to the house every month with that kind of stuff in it - which we would read cover to cover. If you're with me, you can remember that new-magazine smell.
     
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I still have a stack of Sound On Sound and others in the bathroom, in the studio, at the lake and in my truck. Even though these mags are so packed full of ads now, I'm actually going to subscribe to SoS again.

    Yup, I read it all and your previous SL 24.4.2 too.
     
  16. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Dave,

    that is an awesome overview. i am sure everyone who reads these pages is grateful for the effort you put into it.

    a great read! thanks, kurt
     
  17. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Thank you Kurt, again I'm stunned anybody other than Bob (the guy plunking down his money) would be motivated read it. Another example of people passionate about what they do I guess, right?

    Chris, I did 'Blog the Post', with a back-link to this page for cross-reference.
    And somewhere in this house there are boxes full of old (probably pretty musty by now) Guitar Player & Keyboard magazines from the late 70's - late 80's. As well as a decade or more of Electronic Musician magazines from the 80's & 90's. My buddy subscribed to Mix, EQ, and some other Recording magazine - which would make the rounds when he was done with them. We'd sit at some all-night diner after a gig until the sun came up, discussing the possibilities......
     
  18. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    The 16.0.2 showed up yesterday. Have not plugged it in and given it a try, but it's a very solid, sturdy piece of equipment with a nice smooth positive feel to the knobs and faders. A very compact package. I think this is going to be perfect for the current project, and I can see lots of uses for it. I have a ton of stuff hitting me at work (registration for Spring courses) and relatives coming into town, so I don't think I'll be able to give it an extensive look this weekend. But I'll at least plug it in and try a few of the bells and whistles.
     
  19. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    It has happened. I bought an iPad almost exclusively for the purpose of demoing StudioLive mixers (and their remote capabilities). The iPad arrived last Tuesday, the wireless router arrived last Friday. After setting up the network and playing with iPad Friday night I had to demonstrate the SL24.4.2 and remote capabilities the next morning for a handful of music teachers and auditorium types from around the region. The MacBook was able to run Universal Control wirelessly along with StudioOne, and Capture simultaneously. Capture was a more realistic simulation of having a live band. StudioOne gave them a better look at the mixing that would follow. All-in-all, a piece of cake. I didn't have the luxury of having it all in-hand for a month to get really familiar with it, but it was still a pretty set-up and demo.


    Today I was leaving to finish up an complete a church system install that included an SL16.4.2 and thought to myself .... mixer in the balcony.... wireless router in-house .... why not take the laptop and iPad? Turns out to be a good call. It's an extremely challenging, big, reverberant, octagonal room and having the iPad linked to the mixer upstairs saved a couple miles of shoe wear. So the iPad and SL Remote rig is going to change the way I do the final set-up too. I was able to walk the sanctuary while the pastor was reading - allowing me to adjust his new headset mic, the pulpit, and lectern mic from a variety of vantage points. From the balcony it would have been 10x more difficult to make those kind of EQ, compressor, expander, low-cut judgments.
     
  20. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Damn. This is going to be expensive. I don't have any type of notebook with firewire. It looks like a MacBook Pro could be in my future. The guitarist in my band has one, so I'll be able to try out all the features before I buy, but it sounds like it's working for you. Right now the 16.0.2 has been serving us well in the practice room. I'm learning new features as I go. The preamps are fine and the workflow is great. It's an excellent board even if you never crack the remote features. Thanks for the info!
     

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